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Speech at Launch of the Seafood EMS CD, Parkes, Canberra.



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29 June 2004

Launch of the Seafood EMS CD

The Atrium, National Gallery of Australia, Parkes Place Parkes, Canberra, 29 June 2004

Introduction

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen and may I say how pleased I am to be here to launch the Seafood EMS CD.

The seafood industry plays an important role in Australia's economy - to employment and our quality of life.

It is our fifth most valuable primary industry, directly employing 20,000 people. And it provides employment for another 80,000 people through allied trades and industries.

The seafood industry relies heavily on our natural resources and that puts it, under increasing scrutiny and pressure to meet minimum environmental performance standards, and demonstrate strong environmental stewardship o prove that resources are managed and used in a sustainably and responsibly.

At a recent workshop, Seafood Services Australia - Managing Director - Ted Loveday summed-this-up nicely when he said, "Managing the environment is not just something that we do, it is what we do."

Seafood EMS CD

The Seafood EMS CD is a key feature of the range of resources that Seafood Services Australia is developing to support the industry's national approach to environmental management.

The CD is an interactive electronic program that guides users through each of the steps of the Seafood EMS process.

It helps users set goals for the environment, food safety and quality, OH&S, profitability and community relations - and then enables them to integrate their objectives into their day-to-day business.

The program takes the information entered into the system and exports it into an EMS Plan template, allowing users to create the reports or plans needed as part of their EMS.

I understand there will be a demonstration later for those of you interested in seeing just how the CD works.

The Seafood CD complements the other resources Seafood Services Australia have developed - namely the Seafood Chooser - which is a simple guide to EMS, and the EMS self-assessment and training manual.

The seafood industry has specially designed these resources to help

people develop and implement an EMS that meets their needs. These ready to use tools help demystify EMS - and importantly - are tailored by industry for industry. The Australian Seafood Industry Council, and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation - the founding members of Seafood Services Australia - have also strongly endorsed the CD.

I am proud to say that the Australian Government is supporting the development of EMS in the seafood industry - funding from the Australian Government's FarmBis program made the production of this CD possible.

Many people have contributed to the CD's development, including the Seafood EMS Pilot Groups who are field-testing many of the resources on the package.

The Australian Government has provided $655,000 for the Seafood EMS pilot. Partnerships with the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation - Australian Seafood Industry Council - the Marine Stewardship Council - Australian and state government agencies - and other industry associations have added more than $1.7 million to the project.

This is a clear illustration of how important the 'partnership approach' is to the success of EMS and to natural resource management.

An EMS is also a way of demonstrating improved management to the wider community - without the need for further and tighter government regulation. And this is important because urban Australia is demanding more say in how we use our natural resources.

This heightened public interest in how our natural resources are managed will have an increasing influence and impact on our primary production sectors - whether it's through more restrictions on access to natural resources - or more stringent requirements imposed by processors and retailers.

In light of this, it is important to acknowledge that industry has been working on ways to improve quality assurance and natural resource management. Much of the credit for developing EMS in Australian primary industries belongs to industry - community groups - and individual farmers, who have applied its principles for much of the past decade.

The role for Government is to work in partnership with industry to build on existing programs as well as develop the use of EMS as a management tool.

It was with the intention of establishing partnerships like that which has developed with your industry that I refocused the Australian Government's investment in EMS with several major policy changes announced at the 3rd National Conference on EMS in Agriculture in November last year.

This new approach contains two key elements:

● First, it supports industry to determine the best way to design and

apply environmental assurance programs within each industry. ● And second, it provides improved - and more accessible - incentives

to individual primary producers through a revised EMS Incentives Program.

We are delivering the industry support through a new program called

Pathways to Industry EMS.

Under this program, the Australian Government is working as a partner with interested industries to develop and carry out an EMS - or environmental assurance 'pathway'. It's this pathway that will enable them in the adoption of profitable and sustainable farming practices - improve natural resource management - and demonstrate environmental stewardship to markets and the community.

And, equally important - the program builds on the existing work of industry - and enables the industry to take the next step by allowing fishers and farmers to demonstrate their positive management practices.

The seafood industry has received a $1 million grant over the next three years under Round One of the Pathways Program for an exciting project to develop a national framework for auditing and certification in the seafood industry. This brings the Australian Government commitment to EMS development in the seafood industry to more than $1.6m.

Our agricultural industries can - and must - determine their futures. I hope this new results-driven approach to Government support for EMS will help everyone 'realise' the potential benefits that EMS and environmental assurance can deliver.

Conclusion

And now may I congratulate Seafood Services Australia on developing the Seafood EMS CD.

It shows you understand the value of continually improving your natural resource management outcomes, and are serious about achieving this goal. I think the considerable investment the Australian Government has made in helping the seafood industry to develop its own brand of EMS clearly shows our commitment to your industry's future.

I commend you on your vision and enthusiastic embrace of EMS and the development of tools and resources needed to allow users to create the reports or plans needed as part of their EMS.

As someone who has a similar commitment to EMS, may I say how much I look forward to following your progress over the next few years.

Thank you.